Chinese spacecraft 'in position' for historic landing on the dark side of the moon - but officials refuse to reveal when it will touch down
A Chinese space probe has moved into position to land on the dark side of the moon for the first time, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The probe, the Chang'e-4, entered a planned orbit on Sunday 'to prepare for the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon', the news agency said, citing the China National Space Administration.
It didn't say when the landing would occur- but experts from the Smithsonian Institution, the American museums and research centres group, reported that the craft was expected to set down on the Von Kármán crater landing point between January 1 and 3, according to the South China Morning Post.
Chang'e-4 will target the South Pole-Aitken basin's Von Karman crater, the largest in the entire solar system at 15,000 miles (24,000km) across and eight miles deep.
The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side - or the 'dark side' - is never visible from Earth.
Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon, but none has landed on it.
China launched the Chang'e-4 probe earlier this month, carried by a Long March-3B rocket.
It includes a lander and a rover to explore the surface of the moon.
Xinhua said that the probe had entered an elliptical lunar orbit at 08.55 Beijing time, which brought it at its closest point just 15 kilometres away from the surface of the moon.
The Chang'e-4 first entered a lunar orbit on Dec. 12.
The tasks of the Chang'e-4 include astronomical observation, surveying the moon's terrain, landform and mineral composition, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon.
China aims to catch up with Russia and the United States to become a major space power by 2030.
It is planning to launch construction of its own manned space station next year.
However, while China has insisted its ambitions are purely peaceful, the U.S. Defense Department has accused it of pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets during a crisis.
The space control centre will select a 'proper time' to land the probe on the far side of the moon, Xinhua reported.
Its descent is being aided by a relay satellite, the Queqiao, or Magpie Bridge.
Retrorockets on the probe fired on 12 December to stabilise the spacecraft and slow it down.
It took off from the Xichang satellite launch centre in Sichuan, south-west China at 6:30 GMT on December 7 atop a Long March-3B rocket.
It is expected to perform a 'soft-landing' and land on the moon after completing its 27 day journey through space.
Exploring the huge divot on the surface of the moon may shed new light on its history and geology by collecting rocks that have never been seen before.
Researchers hope the huge depth of the crater will allow them to study the moon's mantle, the layer underneath the surface, of the moon.
Chang'e-4 has been described as 'hugely ambitious' and heralded as a sign of China's growing intentions to rival the space exploration prowess of the US, Russia and the EU.
To facilitate communication between controllers on Earth and the Chang'e-4 mission, China launched a relay satellite named Queqiao on 20 May and is now stationed in operational orbit about 40,000 miles beyond the moon.
This will be the primary form of communication between Earth and the spacecraft.
The probe and explorer will use Queqiao to get their findings back to China. As the landing is happening on the dark side of the moon it required its own satellite to be able to send information back.
译文来源：三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/46790.html 译者：Jessica.Wu
Just Saying Now, Stoke on Trent, United Kingdom, 50 minutes ago
Why am I suspicious of this?
NewEnglandGuy, Boston, United States, 1 hour ago
Can't wait to see new pics of...moon rocks
Infidus Imperator, Manchester, United Kingdom, 1 hour ago
They don't want NASA to steal their thunder.
Salty26, Sunny Coast, Australia, 2 hours ago
When are they going to start mining,
Mzungu, Sodden-on-the-Water, United Kingdom, 3 hours ago
China's Space Exploration Chief Scientist No Pah King confirmed that finding a suitable place to land was difficult while his colleague Sum Ting Wong added there were other complications with the mission. Technical director Wee Tu Lo commented that the spacecraft was dangerously close to lunar mountains.
Dfooster, Leeds, United Kingdom, 3 hours ago
That's where the aliens live. I have a feeling this lander will go missing in action
thechosenone, London, United Kingdom, 5 hours ago
I came for the comments ...
HKer, Hong Kong, China, 6 hours ago
US one small step, China two small steps. Then Americans will hurl angry abuses to China: we first, you steal, you copy, we always ahead, you knockoff, . . . . . But China will keep on going forward.
Winch, Lynn, United States, 6 hours ago
It is not the dark side, stop! It's the far side we never see! Ugh
那不叫dark side（暗面），而是我们从未见过的far side（背面)!
Joe Klosed, Boo boo, Zambia, 7 hours ago
Why do all non-rocket spacecraft look like they were made by a six year old using tin foil, a lolly pop stick, empty loo roll and a yogurt pot?
WildBoar, London, United Kingdom, 7 hours ago
fingers crossed they find Elvis
Self-Inflicted Sid, Dublin, Ireland, 7 hours ago
They'll need lots of batteries. Solar panels don't work in the dark.
Xcite, Down South, United Kingdom, 7 hours ago
Watch out for the aliens living up there.